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Covance Alnwick talks over potential sale could save closure threatened site

Covance Alnwick talks over potential sale could save closure threatened site

A pharmaceutical site earmarked for the axe which would see 130 jobs lost could be saved thanks to ongoing talks over a potential sale.

Covance’s site at Alnwick in Northumberland was reportedly facing closure in September with its 132 staff told then they could face redundancy.

But now the company has announced it is in negotiations

over the transfer of the site and operations with North East pharmaceutical firm Shott Trinova LLP which said it plans to retain at least 50 of the jobs.

The news has been greeted warmly by local politicians with one describing it as “welcome news before Christmas.”

Covance is a global drug development services company based in America. It acquired the site, established in 1982, from Sanofi in 2010.

As part of the sale, Sanofi agreed to make contractual payments until the end of October.

Yet in September, Covance announced a proposal that the site would be closed, with consultation letters sent to staff informing them they may be at risk of redundancy.

A more challenging European market and the end of the payments from Sanofi were said to be behind the move.

A task force was set up to look at options including finding a new buyer for the site, supporting interested parties in its purchase and supporting employees at risk.

Representatives from organisations including The Centre for Process Innovation, UK Trade and Investment, Northumberland County Council, learning skills providers, Arch, and the Workforce Response Team from Jobcentre Plus were involved.

Now, Covance has announced it is in negotiations with Woolsington-based Shott Trinova LLP.

Its statement reads: “Today, Covance is starting consultation with employee representatives on current negotiations with Shott Trinova LLP.

“The negotiations include the transfer of the Covance Alnwick site and operations to a new company followed by a restructuring process.

“Details of a potential agreement are part of the ongoing consultation with employee representatives and negotiations with Shott Trinova LLP. We anticipate completing negotiations and consultation in the first quarter of 2016.”

Ian Shott, of Shott Trinova, explained that the hope is for a sale to take place before the end of January with the site to be run by a new company, Arc Trinova, of which he would be managing director.

“Our aim is to build a long term business on that site and to stop it closing.”

Mr Shott said the plan is to retain at least 50 of the jobs.

“I do not think all the jobs will be retained but we will try to retain a core. If we were not there, they would probably all be gone I think.”

Coun Scott Dickinson, business chair at Northumberland County Council, said: “We welcome the developments at Covance and the start of consultation between the company and employee representatives on negotiations with Shott Trinova LLP.

“The negotiations are welcome news before Christmas and we hope these result in further positive developments in the New Year.”

Shott Trinova LLP is a specialist investment and advisory firm focused on established small-and-medium-size-enterprises with high growth potential in industrial biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and the chemical technology sector.

The founders and partners are based in the North East and have a fifteen year history running businesses in the global Pharmaceutical Industry from the region.

They are closely connected to local universities and have also been involved in a number of business development and economic regeneration projects in the region.

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